My teenaged boys and I have been digging into academic writing skills by working through the Full Package of College-Ready Writing Essentials™, from BetterRhetor as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. As always, all opinions are our own.
When homeschooling through high school, many parents have their eye on their student continuing their education. Whether it is at a community college or university, there is a need to develop skills for academic writing. And at the heart of academic writing is the need to write a well-researched paper that seeks to become part of a larger discussion.
Preparing for Academic Writing
What is often lacking when a student enters college is the ability to formulate their own well-reasoned arguments that are then supported by research. Writing skills impact success at the college level and sadly most (73% according to the BetterRhetor site) are not ready for college when they enter. This has led to an increase of remedial courses offered to hopefully bring a student up to the level needed for college.
The more remedial courses your student needs, the longer it takes to finish school. And that translates into a higher final bill for college. And as nice as it can be to learn on a college campus, no one needs that additional debt.
Some high school writing curriculums offer the ability to learn about research papers. However, the student might be constrained to a topic of little interest to them. For some, it is when they can pursue topics where there is a personal passion that the skill of writing can begin to flourish. After all, when you are passionate about a particular thing, you want to convey that passion in the best way possible.
If you are curious about why academic writing is a necessary skill for your student, you can enroll in the CRWE – FREE Mini-Course. The specific focus is on What Is College-Ready Writing & Why Does It Matter?
About the Full Package of College-Ready Writing Essentials™
College-Ready Writing Essentials™ is a program geared for the second half of high school (juniors and seniors), recent high school graduates, or even students already in college that need to hone academic writing skills.
This program is modified from the materials developed by BetterRhetor for use in high schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. Everything has been thoroughly researched, pulling from years of experience by Founder and CEO, William Bryant, PhD. The strategies, skills, and concepts that research shows are most essential for college writing success are presented in a manner shown to assist students to learn.
The ultimate goal is that by completing the program a student will gain the academic writing skills most needed in college. Rather than just getting by, the student can excel in the college environment.
There are two different options for this package, both set up for self-pacing. The Full Package, which we reviewed, has the final paper being graded by the homeschool parent/teacher. The Premium Package offers more depth to the study as well as Dr. Bryant’s personal essay feedback.
How College-Ready Writing Essentials™ is Set Up
Regardless of which option you select, College-Ready Writing Essentials™ is broken into 25 lessons. While it is possible to work through the material in 5 weeks (so a lesson per school day), there is not a set timeframe requirement.
The course is delivered through the Teachable platform. Everything is text-based, so they read from the screen. Some additional material is hyperlinked from the main lesson pages. Students can mark lessons complete as they move through the program.
The 25 lessons broken into 4 main segments:
2: Task, Audience, Purpose
3: Selecting a Topic
4: Researching a Topic
5: Reading Perceptively
6: Defining an Issue
7: Connecting a Specific Issue to a General Concern
8: Mapping Perspectives
9: Taking a Position
10: Outlining Your Essay
11: Outline – Peer Reviews
12: Rhetorical Appeals
13: The Introduction
14: The Introduction – Peer Appeals
15: The Body – Background and Analysis
16: The Body – Your Position and Supporting Argument
17: The Body – Addressing Counterarguments
18: The Body – Peer Reviews
19: The Conclusion
20: Self Review
21: Self Review – Content and Structure
22: Self Review – Language
23: Peer Reviews
25: College-Ready Writing
Thoughts on Using College-Ready Writing Essentials™ to Hone Academic Writing Skills
I decided to look through the complete program as someone with good writing skills put to use on multiple college degrees.
I found this to be a very sound program. Everything is well laid out.
One thing I appreciate is that the assignments are Word documents. This allows for completion on the computer instead of printing out and using a pen. When you have a student that struggles with penmanship, this is a definite blessing. However, you can always print and have them work off the computer as well.
More importantly, is that the program provides multiple examples of persuasive essays. In lesson 2, they have 3 different ones to show an excellent, good, and poor example. For many, seeing those multiple examples helps them to see what is expected. I truly believe that good writers are also voracious readers, learning by example.
As a parent in a single income home, I am particularly grateful for the lifetime access to the program. This allows your student to reference the materials over and over as needed rather than fret over a cut off date in the near future. Writing is a skill that takes regular practice to develop and maintain.
Struggles Using With Reluctant Writers
None of my boys are what I would call eager writers. They have always shied away from writing out assignments asking to do questions orally instead. This is why I ended up finding a ‘mentor’ for part of their high school years. Yet, the mentor program we used did not get to anything as detailed for a researched paper like the Full Package of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ does.
Their lack of enthusiasm for writing reared its ugly head while working through this program. Which is why neither of my teens finished the program.
My one son is still discerning what he wants to do in life and what type of education that may require. I had him begin working through the materials. Since he isn’t getting a grade that impacts his future life, he dragged on it.
His one comment was that most of what he was reading is already familiar from his high school studies. My response was that if he already knows it all, then he should be able to produce a final product that reflects that skill set.
My 11th-grade son and I have been going through the program side by side. He immediately got hung up on Lesson 3 where you have to start discerning what topic you’ll pursue. As this program is serving as the backbone for his fall English studies, I know he needs extra motivation to push through. And, I suspect part of it stems from a fear of failure.
Final Takeaway on College-Ready Writing Essentials™
If you are seeking a well-researched program to help your student learn the academic writing skills needed beyond high school, this is an excellent program. The level of detail is spot on for each step of the writing process. My one caveat is that an unmotivated student may need additional prodding to work through the program.
Do you have a student preparing to attend college in the near future?
Would College-Ready Writing Essentials™ work well for them?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit the BetterRhetor review post on the Homeschool Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this book.